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3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  11,084 Ratings  ·  1,642 Reviews
When Sheila McGann sets out to redeem her disgraced brother, a once-beloved Catholic priest in suburban Boston, her quest will force her to confront cataclysmic truths about her fractured Irish-American family, her beliefs, and, ultimately, herself. Award-winning author Jennifer Haigh follows her critically acclaimed novels Mrs. Kimble and The Condition with a captivating, ...more
Hardcover, 322 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Harper (first published 2011)
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Kirkus Best Books of 2011
14th out of 88 books — 179 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Will Byrnes
What happens when one’s foundations crumble? What if the things you believed all your life turn out to have been, well, questionable?

The setting is 2002 in Boston, at the height of the terrible revelations about the Church. Sheila McGann is the younger, half-sister of Arthur Breen, a popular priest who is accused of inappropriate contact with an eight-year-old boy. As narrator, Sheila tells us what she gathered from talking with everyone involved in the events. Mom fears the worst and just does
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This is a family drama that was hard to put down. It has an element of suspense I hadn't expected in a story of this nature. Haigh's characters come alive, and her subtle observations about family dynamics are on target. There's also a welcome absence of melodrama, which serves to strengthen the book's effect.

The plot crisis occurs in 2002, when the pedophile priest scandal has rocked the Boston Archdiocese. Father Arthur Breen's family is shocked when he is accused of molesting a little boy wit
switterbug (Betsey)
Jul 08, 2011 switterbug (Betsey) rated it it was amazing
Jennifer Haigh exerts a sublime spin on the unreliable narrator in this probing, poignant saga of an Irish-American family hailing from South Boston. Sheila McGann, the central narrator, left Boston and her Catholic faith years ago while her family stayed in "Southie." The cardinal premise is the question of whether her half-brother, Art, a once esteemed and trusted but now disgraced and defrocked parish priest, is really guilty of alleged egregious acts. This is 2002, when the Archdiocese of Bo ...more
Apr 04, 2013 Dem rated it really liked it
Faith by Jennifer Haigh is a complex, disturbing, and thought provoking novel about an Irish-American family that takes on the difficult topic of child abuse within the Catholic Church. Most of the story is told as seen through the eyes of Sheila McGann, Sheila is a teacher, divorced and disillusioned not only by the church but also by life.

Firstly this book deals with the family's reaction to the news that one of their own has been accused of child abuse. I was very hesitant about reading this
Jul 25, 2011 Kiki rated it it was amazing
I think Jennifer Haigh is an amazing writer, who attacks her topic head on with such great creativity and craftsmanship. This is what Jodi Picoult wants to be, but Haigh's writing is so exceptional, and she deals with the topic with care and delicacy, walking a tightrope balanced between the usual reactions.

This is Sheila's McGann's story about her family. Art is a priest in the Boston area, accused of molesting a boy in his parish. The family grew up in Boston, and their mother is a devout lif
Oct 29, 2013 Jill rated it really liked it
Religion relies strongly on faith – a complete trust or confidence without substantive proof. It is precisely that tenet of faith that is required from the McGann family when the eldest son, Art, a popular and compassionate priest, is charged with the heinous crime of pedophilia.

But faith in one another doesn’t come easily to the McGanns. Their lives have been carefully constructed upon secret after secret. In fact, everything is so shrouded in secrecy that when Sheila – the narrator – performs
Gary  the Bookworm
May 20, 2013 Gary the Bookworm rated it liked it
I am a sucker for family dramas: I go to weddings and marvel as the ghosts of my dead relatives pass before me, reincarnated in the bodies of their children and grandchildren. I am a lapsed Catholic from a long line of religious cynics and, as a native New Yorker, I've always felt some skepticism about Boston with its Red Sox mania and Irish hegemony.(view spoiler)

Faith encompasses all of these elements, as it delves into one family's struggles after the eldest son, a middle-ag
Diane S ☔
Jun 08, 2011 Diane S ☔ rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
When I first started reading this book I thought one would have to be Catholic to identify with this story but that was because the author did such a fantastic job with the tone and the setting. I could just picture my old neighborhood and Catholic school in Chicago, really felt like I was there again. When you read fourther, however, you realize there is so much more to this book and the problems it outlines could pertain to so many other things, anyone who reads the papers will find this relev ...more
May 22, 2011 Staci rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Staci by: Amazon Vine
Shelves: 2011-reads

Most of you have heard, by now, what happened to my brother, or a version of it: the alarming events of that spring and summer, the single, vile accusation, still unproven, that made a ruin of his life. *{p.10}

When Sheila McGann sets out to redeem her disgraced brother, a once-beloved Catholic priest in suburban Boston, her quest will force her to confront cataclysmic truths about her fractured Irish-American family, her beliefs, and, ultimately, herself.

My Thoughts:
This book literally
Jul 24, 2011 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
Faith is one of the most powerful books that I have read in a long time. The author's writing is spellbinding. She weaves a tale that, as a reader, you think that you know where she is going and then she turns the story around and takes you to places you didn't expect. I just finished the book and must say that it touched me on so many levels that it left me feeling as if I personally knew these characters, this family. The author tells the story mainly through the voice of the sister of the acc ...more
Jun 22, 2011 Zella rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book; it was poignant, funny, understandable, and ultimately tragic. I had read a review earlier that said this book wasn't as good as the author's earlier works, like "The Condition", but I disagree. It's told by the the sister of a priest accused of molesting a child; I won't give away the plot but it gives a lot of food for thought about automatically condemning someone in this position based just on an accusation. Even the priest's own family has doubts, and in context th ...more
Lisa Eskra
Mar 31, 2011 Lisa Eskra rated it liked it
This book surprised me -- not only in what it did well but also what it did poorly. Overall, I liked it. I recommend it for anyone interested in a good family drama.

The good:

The premise of the novel is great -- a priest scandal and how it tears one family apart. It's why I chose the book. At its most basic, it reads like a did-he-or-didn't-he mystery, peeling off the layers of an onion to get to the truth. I also liked her writing. Easy to read and it flows well from one scene to the next. It's
Jan 02, 2014 Alena rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

I couldn't help but compare this novel to Shanley's brilliant play, Doubtgiven the an allegation of molestation by a priest is the central issue. Haigh's novel is bigger, broader and more concerned with relationship than the play, but doesn't contain the same sort of tension Shanley evokes.

What Haigh does brilliantly is create atmosphere. She knows Boston. She knows Irish Catholic families. She knows dysfunction and sibling relationships. All the surrounding environment of the novel is
Jun 10, 2011 Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read Jennifer Haigh's previous novels but none of them can surpass the excellence of Faith. Many writers avoid writing about who they are and what they really know to avoid the label of a `Catholic writer" or a "Jewish writer," I have discovered that when writers with extraordinary ability have confidence to create a story and utilize their background, they develop their best work. Jennifer Haigh is one of them. (Jonathan Tropper and Phillip Roth are two others).

If she were not Catholic,
Richard Thurman
Jan 22, 2013 Richard Thurman rated it it was amazing
I just turned the last page on an excellent book that I want you all to know about. The book is Faith by Jennifer Haigh. If you read a synopsis of the book, don't be put off by what is seemingly another novel about a child abuse scandal involving a priest. This book is much more than that. The story is narrated by Sheila McGann, a lapsed Catholic from a dysfunctionally blended family. But don't tell Sheila it's a blended family; she claims that it wasn't so much blended as two separate families ...more
Sep 07, 2012 K rated it it was amazing
Recommended to K by: M
Shelves: ebooks
My sister and I were discussing this book yesterday, and I asked her why she didn't give it five stars. We agreed that we want our five star ratings to be really meaningful, and try to reserve them for the really great books. Her issue with this book was that the narrator sometimes felt less like a personality and more like a writer documenting events, and that the narrator's behavior in context didn't always jive with her voice. My sister has a point, but I still thought this was a great read a ...more
May 25, 2011 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: catholica
I was torn about this novel. On one hand, some of the characters seem to express the usually anti-Catholic tropes, which drove me crazy. Two, a novel about the clergy abuse scandal seems primed for Catholic bashing, and there was a bit of that. It was almost like the film "Doubt", where the priests are portrayed as jolly, devil-may-care-as-long-as-I-get-a-steak-dinner types. But the main characters were well-drawn and the ending made me gasp. But if you're not Catholic, I definitely wouldn't tak ...more
Katie O'Rourke
Jan 11, 2014 Katie O'Rourke rated it it was amazing

Last year, I read Jennifer Haigh's The Condition and called it my favorite book of the year. Having just finished another of her books, as early in the year as it is, this may be it.

Faith centers around the child abuse scandal in the Catholic church, specifically Boston in the 2000's when the scandal was exploding in the city. But the novel is really about the McGann family. The oldest son, Art, is a priest who stands accused of abusing a child. His family is divided in their support of him. His
May 19, 2011 Diane rated it it was amazing
Haigh sets her story in Boston in 2004, shortly after scandal began to rock the Catholic diocese. Many priests had been accused of sexually abusing young people, and the large Catholic community was devastated.

Sheila McGann tells the story of her half-brother, Art Breen, a priest accused by an eight-year-old boy's mother of molesting her son. There is an element of mystery to the novel as Sheila attempts to discover whether the charges are true.

Art's mother, a devout Catholic, believes her son c
T.L. Cooper
Apr 27, 2011 T.L. Cooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jennifer Haigh’s Faith touches nerves that leave the reader squirming a bit. Haigh’s examination of family dynamics and dysfunction reaches into that place in our minds where we hold our family secrets, the secrets that perhaps no one else would even care about but are there nonetheless because we cover them with the shame we’ve been told we should feel. She examines the McGann family’s journey through life including their family secrets and the secrets they keep from one another in the name of ...more
Oct 24, 2011 Carl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I was hooked on this excellently written novel right from the first chapter. I was not raised Catholic, nor am I now religious, but this book should appeal to nearly anyone who can look at the world with an open mind, religious and non-religious alike.

While the press is sensationalizing the pedophile-priest scandals, there is a human tendency for us to forget that not everyone accused is guilty, and that those not guilty are human individuals, with real lives, loved ones, and feelings. This book
Jan 14, 2012 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in Boston during the 2002 priest sexual abuse scandals, Faith challenges us to look beyond the crimes to examine how human interactions change after the accusations. Sheila McGann, the novel's main character and narrator, is the half-sister of Arthur Breen, a once-popular cleric now ensnared in charges of abusing a young boy. Returning to her family, with whom she has difficult relations, Sheila attempts to support her embattled sibling, but everyone, including Art himself, seems unwilling o ...more
May 24, 2011 Amy rated it it was amazing
Jennifer Haigh once again proves herself a master storyteller and a keen observer of family dysfunction. Haigh’s latest, Faith, centers on the Boston based, Irish-American McGann family. Sheila McGann, the narrator of Faith, has escaped her unusual family and moved to Philadelphia, only to be called back in the Spring of 2002 when her older brother, Art, a priest, is accused of improper conduct by a parishioner. Amid the many claims of sexual abuse by priests the Diocese adopts a zero tolerance ...more
Apr 19, 2013 Tim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's a sound decision to approach from the outside looking in a story of a priest accused of molestation. It's such a private crime (or accusation) and galvanizes the public so much, there's a great sense of the unknown. Just what happened? Jennifer Haigh's narrator in "Faith" is the sister of the accused, and she tells the story through her own assumptions and reconstructions of half-known details and her dealings with her brother.

Unfortunately, Haigh's story is sunk by the potential pitfalls o
Jun 26, 2011 RNOCEAN rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"It is the spring of 2002 and a perfect storm has hit Boston. Across the city's archdiocese, trusted priests have been accused of the worst possible betrayal of the souls in their care. In Faith, Jennifer Haigh explores the fallout for one devout family, the McGanns.

Estranged for years from her difficult and demanding relatives, Sheila McGann has remained close to her older brother Art, the popular, dynamic pastor of a large suburban parish. When Art finds himself at the center of the maelstrom,
May 12, 2012 Evelyn rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful surprise! I never expected to be so blown away by this book. Though the subject is potentially horrible--a Boston-area priest is accused of molesting a child and the consequences of the accusation--the author's deft and sensitive handling of the story makes this a heartbreaking albeit lovely book. Set in Boston in 2002 as the snowballing accusations of child molestation by local priests successively undermines both the Catholic church and the Boston Archdiocese, Faith zeros in o ...more
Book Concierge
Jun 25, 2016 Book Concierge rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of literary fiction
Narrator Sheila McGann tells the story of her Irish-Catholic family against the backdrop of the priest-sex-abuse scandal that rocked the Boston Archdiocese. Sheila’s older half-brother, Art, is a priest accused of molesting a child. Her younger brother, like much of the community, is horrified and repulsed by the allegations and immediately assumes Father Art’s guilt. Their mother is paralyzed by fear and dread – loving her son, not believing the accusations, unable to face her faith community a ...more
Jan 04, 2012 Danna rated it it was amazing
"...sooner or later you have to decide what you believe... faith is a decision. In its most basic form, it is a choice" (160)

I absolutely loved Faith by Jennifer Haigh. Faith is narrated by Sheila, a young woman living in Philadelphia who grew up in Boston with her Irish Catholic family. The BIC culture gives a flavor to the entire book - Haigh is right on with her language, cultural references, and jokes about the local towns (such as the W in Wellesley, West Newton, Weston standing for Wealth)
Jul 19, 2011 Stephanie rated it liked it
The book has a strong premise....the "back story" of a priest and how an alleged sexual abuse scandal fractures a family and makes them take sides.

I liked the ending, but the book gets off to a plodding start. It took over half the book for the author to develop the characters (and I still feel like I barely knew the narrator of the story despite the fact that she's supposedly a central part of the story). And the characters I did manage to get to know simply aren't very likable. It was hard to
Amy Meyer
May 22, 2011 Amy Meyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Publisher's Book Summary: It is the spring of 2002 and a perfect storm has hit Boston. Across the city's archdiocese, trusted priests have been accused of the worst possible betrayal of the souls in their care. In Faith, Jennifer Haigh explores the fallout for one devout family, the McGanns.

Estranged for years from her difficult and demanding relatives, Sheila McGann has remained close to her older brother Art, the popular, dynamic pastor of a large suburban parish. When Art finds himself at the
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Jennifer Haigh is an American novelist and short story writer. Her novel FAITH, about a beloved Boston priest accused of a molesting a child in his parish, explores the consequences of this accusation for an entire community. Haigh's critically acclaimed debut novel MRS. KIMBLE won the 2004 PEN/Hemingway Award for first fiction. Later books include the New York Times bestsellers THE CONDITION and ...more
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“The story of my family. . .changes with the teller.” 42 likes
“I wanted only a familiar voice, someone who knew me. Not some earlier, larval version of myself. . .” 28 likes
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